An Expensive Charter Crisis on Maui
Veterans Day Events Hawaii
Hawaii Congressional Delegation How They Voted November 9, 2019
Do OHA Trustees Have Free Speech? Board to decide
SA: … “The OHA Board, including Trustee Akina, will have an opportunity to discuss the (Permitted Interaction Group’s) findings at a subsequent Board meeting, pursuant to the State Sunshine Law,” the statement said. …
In an April news release, Akina criticized the board for delaying an independent audit of OHA and its subsidiaries known as limited liability companies. He accused the board majority of taking “a step backward for transparency and accountability.”
The board’s code of conduct outlines standards of behavior and is designed to help the nine trustees function like a “collegial unit” and to “speak with one voice.” It requires trustees to support a decision once it is made by the board.
Machado previously said the agency received two internal complaints alleging trustee code of conduct violations against Akina, prompting the formation of a special subcommittee to investigate the charges.
Akina on Friday said the four-member panel met behind closed doors, and he was never given the opportunity to discuss the matter with the committee or present any defense before they made the report public.
“I believe my reputation has been maligned by an unjust process and that may hinder the performance of my public duties,” the trustee said. “What OHA, as a public agency, has done could have a chilling effect on the willingness of other elected officials to use their first amendment rights to speak out for the people. A fair democracy cannot exist unless there is a competition of ideas. We must protect freedom of speech.”
Akina called on the full OHA board to reject the accusation that he made untrue and misleading statements and issue a public apology….
read … Office of Hawaiian Affairs’ Keli‘i Akina demands apology from fellow trustees
Grassroot: Honolulu P3s could violate debt limits
SA: … Honolulu policymakers are increasingly pursuing private-public partnerships for the city’s large infrastructure projects, allegedly to introduce efficiency or good financial management, but also, it appears, as a way to avoid exceeding the city’s legal “debt affordability limit.” This could be a problem, since it is unclear whether such “P3” financial arrangements can truly skirt the city’s official debt limits.
Incurring too much debt is a sure way for the city to damage its credit rating, which is why it has both an official “debt limit” and a “debt affordability limit.”
The “debt limit” applies to the city’s total debt. Currently that limit is $31 billion, and Honolulu lawmakers are well below that, having incurred debt of only $2.6 billion.
The “debt affordability limit,” however, refers to the cost of debt service. Set at less than 20% of general fund revenues, Honolulu by this measure is on track to breach the debt affordability limit in fiscal 2026, primarily because of rail debt service.
Honolulu’s debt affordability limit was capped in 1996 by the Honolulu City Council at 20% to “preserve credit quality.” According to the city auditor, the cap was imposed by resolution “in response to bond rating agencies’ concerns about the impact of the city’ s ‘aggressive debt plans.’”….
read … Honolulu P3s could violate debt limits
A Step Up from Tent Cities
Shapiro: … ome 250 homeless who have lived for years in a makeshift camp at the Waianae Boat Harbor announced last week they’re buying a 20-acre nearby property after raising $800,000 in private funds to establish Puuhonua o Waianae — a complex of tiny homes with communal kitchens and restrooms that will cost residents, mostly native Hawaiians, about $250 a month.
It not only resolves the thorny problem at the harbor, but is a model for the kauhale villages concept being promoted by Lt. Gov. Josh Green and others, in which many similar projects would be built around the state, each able to house 300 homeless at a cost of $2 million to $5 million.
Such low-cost permanent housing — a vast step up from tent cities — could make a major dent in homelessness, especially when combined with services to eventually get residents into more traditional housing.
Also last week, Hawaii judges, police, legislators, health officials and outreach workers held a summit on diverting mentally ill homeless from the criminal justice system into social services to support functional lives instead of clogging the courts, jails and emergency rooms.
Judge Steve Leifman of Florida’s Miami-Dade County said its refocus with the mentally ill from criminality to treatment has reduced arrests, jail bookings and repeat offenses by more than half, allowing a jail to close at annual savings of $12 million.
“There is something terribly wrong with a society that is willing to spend more on imprisoning people with mental illnesses than to treat them,” said Leifman, in a sentiment drawing much local buy-in.
Honolulu police under the leadership of Chief Susan Ballard and Capt. Mike Lambert have recognized that they’re often the first point of contact with the homeless and launched several initiatives beyond traditional law enforcement.
In a Chinatown pilot project called Law Enforcement Assisted Diversion, or LEAD, police team with social workers to direct chronically homeless to health services instead of scooping them into the criminal justice system.
After a year, the University of Hawaii found dramatic reductions in law enforcement encounters, emergency room visits, unsheltered days and drug use among participating homeless.
Another police iniatiative is HONU, a temporary inflatable shelter and service center being tried for 90 days at the Waipahu Cultural Garden Park.
The goal is to quickly move participants to more stable shelter while cracking down on violations by homeless in the vicinity who refuse help….
Related: Mental Health: Can Reform Solve Hawaii’s Homeless, Prison and Unfunded Liability Problems?
read … Finally, good news in battle against Hawaii homelessness
New Building Code Adds 10% to Cost of Home Construction
WHT: … Building codes were introduced to protect the buyer from incompetent builders, and facilitate the collection of taxes.
Over the years codes have grown and become more uniform but also stricter and often unrealistic. Hawaii is victim to international building and energy codes — IBC and IECC — which impose some absurd requirements, like R19 insulation and dual pane e-glass windows that protect against extreme temperature, for houses that do not need heat or air conditioning and have windows that will never close. To justify it they propose mandatory air conditioning. Suddenly 4×4 timbers that have served well for 100 years must be 6×6, over twice the cost.
The “improvements” add 10% or more to the cost of a new home. These standards are mostly written by the vendors’ and manufacturers’ lobbyists to make their products mandatory. Increased sales dollars for them and improved profits all the way up the supply chain. A home buyer pays thousands more for materials and the vendors and manufacturers make a few dollars more profit per house, times thousands of houses. The tax authorities profit, too.
The loser is the home buyer forced to pay for features that offer no tangible benefit. Think about this the next time the government proposes to improve something you might buy. Who really benefits? ….
read … Double-edged standard sword
Hawaii’s 130 state-regulated dams considered deadly if they fail—Kaloko Unrepaired 13 Years After Disaster
SA: … Many dams across Hawaii, like those in other parts of the country, are aging and in a state of decay.
Hawaii is strewn with privately owned, earthen dams and reservoirs that were built in the plantation era over a century ago. State officials struggle to effectively regulate the dams, and most people who live nearby have no idea they could be in danger.
An Associated Press investigation shows that virtually every one of Hawaii’s 130 state-regulated dams is considered high hazard, meaning they could cause death if they were to fail. Of those, 59 are considered to be in poor or unsatisfactory condition….
In Hawaii, a review of state inspection records acquired by the AP shows dozens of dams and reservoirs with poor and unsatisfactory marks for critical elements of dam safety, and many have been getting low marks for more than a decade.
Hawaii’s engineer in charge of the dam safety program, Edwin Matsuda, said the process of getting private owners to comply is challenging. Questions over ownership, current and future land use, and cost complicate the discussions, he said….
Until this year, the last fatal dam failure in the U.S. occurred on Kauai in 2006, when an earthen wall of Kaloko Reservoir collapsed during heavy rain and sent a wave of water and mud rushing down a hillside. Seven people, including a pregnant woman, were killed on Bruce Fehring’s property. He lost his daughter, son-in-law and grandson….
Dam owner James Pflueger pleaded no contest to felony reckless endangerment and his property company pleaded no contest to seven counts of manslaughter. Prosecutors said Pflueger had filled in the dam’s spillway while attempting to make space for a waterfront development.
Though categorized by the state as low hazard at the time it failed, Kaloko Reservoir is now listed as a high-hazard facility in poor condition. Records show the dam remains largely unrepaired….
read … Hawaii’s 130 state-regulated dams considered deadly if they fail
$20M federal Grant Diverted to Build Amenity for Kakaako Condos
Cataluna: … stop for a moment and think of all the ways $20 million could fix transportation problems and serve as economic stimulus in places like Waianae and Nanakuli, where hours-long delays because of horrible accidents are almost routine and where the local economy consists of people selling pickled mango and dried aku out of their rusty trucks on the side of the road; or the North Shore, where residents get stuck for hours when tourists invade the two-lane roads to get a glimpse of high surf; or any other working class residential neighborhood beset with the burdens of too many commuters on old roads and local businesses that struggle because there’s no longer parking or foot traffic or because a bypass has left them out of the flow of commerce.
This $20 million is not going to anything like that.
Instead, it will be used to build a wide, landscaped pedestrian bridge connecting the gleaming high-end housing towers of Ward, the luxury chain stores of Ala Moana Center and Ala Moana Beach Park, the busy beach that is, no doubt, only going to get busier as Mayor Kirk Caldwell pigheadedly tries to pave the way for his wealthy friends to build their pet projects in view of their high-rise balconies.
In proudly announcing this big win for the ritzy redevelopment-section of seaside Honolulu, U.S. Sen. Brian Schatz said, “We had to compete for these dollars
read … Federal funds for Ala Moana project not bridging the gap
Farmer sues ‘rogue’ state agency over alleged mistreatment
SA: … A state agency established to support diversified farming in Hawaii is being accused of wrecking one prospective venture to grow produce on former pineapple fields in Wahiawa.
An affiliate of local produce distribution firm Aloha Products recently sued the state Agribusiness Development Corp. for alleged mistreatment over a planned 160-acre farm on land that the agency owns. At issue is the provision for irrigation water.
Ohana Best LLC, led by Aloha Products principal Hwa Young Chung, filed the complaint last month in state Circuit Court, calling ADC a “rogue” agency led by a former head of the state Department of Agriculture. Chung claims she lost $1.5 million in the effort to establish Ohana Best Farms.….
read … Farmer sues ‘rogue’ state agency over alleged mistreatment
Three Trump Rallies on Big Island
WHT: … Scott Presler wants to help turn the blue state of Hawaii “red like hot lava.”
The energetic conservative activist was on the Big Island this week, speaking first in Hilo on Thursday, and then in Waimea and Kailua-Kona on Saturday. His hope while visiting Hawaii is to encourage his fellow President Donald Trump supporters to get involved in their community and help others register to vote for the 2020 election….
Presler has gained national attention in the past year due to his organization of a neighborhood cleanup in Baltimore, Maryland. More than 100 volunteers helped Presler clean up 29 tons of trash on the Baltimore streets. Presler also organized a cleanup in Los Angeles, clearing 50 tons of trash from the city.
“Go do community acts,” Presler said. “I’m the guy that cleaned up Baltimore, so why don’t we organize and see if we can get people here to go to Honolulu and try to help out with the homeless crisis and try to clean up trash.”…
read … Cleanup activist, Trump supporter rallies groups to get out and vote